28 June 2014

Anyone Can Be a Princess

Sofia Hellqvist, new fiancee of 
Carl Philipp of Sweden
Once upon a time, to become a princess, you had to get a very good start in life. You had to pick your father well--preferably an emperor, a king, or a powerful duke. You had to behave yourself. You had to keep your opinions to yourself. And, you should definitely avoid developing a "past." (Read my 2009 post, How to Become a Princess)

Good news, modern ladies!! Absolutely none of those rules apply today. With yesterday's announcement of Prince Carl Philipp of Sweden's engagement to long-time live-in love Sofia Hellqvist, the change in royal princess qualifications has once again been reconfirmed. It has not been so long since the idea of a royal bride of less than equal rank was scandalous (see my post, Unequal Marriage Equals Happy Marriage?) Even in the 1970s, Carl Philipp's dad had to wait to become King in order to change the dynastic rules so that he could marry Carl Philipp's non-royal, non-noble mother.

Even more recently, Prince Charles was coaxed (forced?) into marrying the virginal Lady Diana Spencer and his brother Prince Andrew was criticized for dating soft-porn actress Kathleen "Koo" Stark. Just a generation later, however, a royal prince is about to marry a young woman who built her reputation as a reality TV personality and nude calendar pin-up girl.

But Sofia is just the latest in steady line of loosening protocols regarding royal marriage partners. After all, Princess Stephanie of Monaco and Princess Anne of Great Britain both married royal staff members in the 1990s. In 2004, the new King Felipe of Spain married Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, a woman who had been previously married. And, a few years before that, the Crown Prince of Norway caused a stir by making a princess out of a single mother, Mette-Marit Tjessem-Hoiby.

While true love may be noble, the real danger lies in royals and their partners becoming "celebrities" that can be torn down by the media and the public for real or imagined flaws. With Prince Harry's private parts having been shared around the globe and The Duchess of Cambridge's topless pics still alive and well on the Internet, plus the recently retired King Juan Carlos of Spain's philandering ways, the Prince of Monaco's acknowledged illegitimate children, and Infanta Cristina being indicted for fraud, is it any wonder that so many royals have fallen victim to tabloidization? Is it just that their exploits are more exposed or are the royals truly more inclined to "let the side down"? The days of stiff upper lips are rapidly passing away. When we lose, Queen Elizabeth II, will everything begin to slip into the mists of history?

Now that European monarchs have little real power and are completely dependent upon popular goodwill for their status, I am concerned that we are seeing the last generation of royalty playing its way across the stage. If the royals are now being portrayed--and sometimes deservedly so--as little better behaved than Kardashians, why should they be held up as the titular heads of nations?

Sixty-ish years ago, King Farouk of Egypt predicted that soon there would be only five kings left--the King of Clubs, the King of Spades, the King of Hearts, the King of Diamonds, and the King of England.

He may have overestimated.

(For links to other bloggers' coverage of the Swedish engagement, visit my other blog, Royal Blog Central.)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comments. Times have certainly changed. I think more of our royals are marrying for love rather than duty and surely that is a good thing.